Washington Nationals Series Preview: Nats vs. Cubs (5/25-27)

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May 24, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper (34) scores a run against the Philadelphia Phillies during the seventh inning at Nationals Park. The Washington Nationals won 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Fresh off a series win over the Philadelphia Phillies and a 4-1 homestead, the Washington Nationals are the hottest team in baseball. Long forgotten are the April days in which fans and analysts alike were jumping ship, declaring the Nationals to be the biggest “bust” and “disappointment” of the 2015 season.

Now, with over a quarter of the season in the books, the Nationals are playing how they were supposed to be playing from the start. They lead the NL East by a comfortable 2.5 games, and they’re rapidly making their way to the top of the National League. The Nationals are now eight games over .500, they’ve won eight of their last 10 games and they have won eight consecutive series’. But most importantly, the team doesn’t appear to be slowing down any time soon.

The Nationals wrapped up the home stand yesterday afternoon in dominant fashion, as Gio Gonzalez and Bryce Harper led the way in a 4-1 victory over the Phillies. The team worked around a miserable start from Stephen Strasburg and a poor showing by the entire team on Saturday to take two out three against their rivals from the City of Brotherly Love. The series win came on the heels of a big two-game sweep of the Yankees last week to cap yet another impressive home stand at Nationals Park, where they are now 14-7 on the season.

This week, the Nationals are once again on the road as they square off against two NL Central teams. The Nationals kickoff a three-game set against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field this afternoon, before heading out to Cincinnati on Friday for a weekend series against the Reds.

Like the Nationals, the Cubs are off to a good start to the 2015 season. After losing 89 games last season, the Cubs are 24-19 this season, have won six of their last 10 games and sit just 3.5 games behind the St. Luis Cardinals for first place in the NL Central.

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Chicago has no shortness of young talent, as developed and rising superstars such as Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo are expected to help lead the Cubs to greatness in the very near future. The Cubs are already playing better this season than they were last season, and as Chicago’s abundance of young talent continues to develop, the team could become one of the best in all of baseball.

This week’s series between the Nationals and the Cubs won’t be easy for either team and there are several interesting storylines to keep an eye on, such as Tanner Roark‘s first start of the season and the rivalry between Bryant and Bryce Harper—two of the game’s most promising young talents.

With all of this in mind, let’s take a look at the pitching match-ups that we expect to see during this series.

Next: Today's Matchup